Keeping the Peace on Facebook with Friend Lists

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

With the rise of social media, it seems that people feel a little freer to express opinions that they might have kept to themselves before the age of anonymity. There’s nothing wrong, by any means, with free speech. It’s just possible, though, that you really didn’t mean to set yourself up for the kinds of comments that you’re seeing. Many absurd, argumentative comments are from people who you thought you knew but leave you wondering. I bring this up because  a couple of friends on Facebook felt a need to unfriend people they’ve had arguing with them in comment threads. Some people handle this well and others just tire of trying to reason with the unreasonable.

There is an alternative to unfriending or blocking on Facebook and I’ve found this works quite well for me.

Sharing your posts with the few, the proud

First, create a List. To do that, go to the left column of your Facebook home page (the newsfeed, not your profile) and click the word Friends. Here is what it looks like: Friends List

At the top of the resulting page, you will see this:

Create New List

Click on the Create List button. You will get a pop-up window that look like this:

See All Posts

Name the list something like See All Posts. This will be the list of people who you don’t mind seeing everything you share. It’s different than Close Friends because you won’t necessarily get notifications when they post and you will probably share more things than are personal. Now go click in the Members section and add friends to the list by starting to type the name and clicking ones you want and hitting enter.

When you’re through adding people to the list, click the Create button.The next time you post a status, change who you share with to the new list name (to the left of the Post button).  Mine looks like this:

FB Status With Default

Remember that whatever you use for your FB status sharing stays that way until you change it again. So, if you post to your new list, everything else will post to just those people until you change it again.

Do be sure to share with “Friends” once in a while, though! And when you do, remember to change it back to your list when you need to.

Putting an invisibility cloak on your friends

Now, if a friend is posting too much political material or is preaching at you (right or left) or sharing every blessed game score from online games, you can also fix that without blocking him.

Navigate to the timeline of the friend whose posts you don’t want to see. Click on the Friends button and uncheck Show in Newsfeed.


Voilà! When you go back to your newsfeed, future posts will not show up. You can change it back anytime or just say to yourself, “I wonder how X is?” and go look at his timeline at your leisure.

All that said, we all could have avoided this in the first place, by heeding some literary advice:

In the play George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Henry Higgins counsels Eliza to stick to two topics – the weather and health. Be polite; don’t troll on either  people’s comment threads, even if somehow it seems they deserve a trouncing. And, if even Shaw’s approach doesn’t work, and it takes you to climate change or universal health care, well there’s always LOLCats.



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